Busting Brackets

Creighton basketball: Ryan Kalkbrenner to return for the Bluejays

Creighton v Seton Hall
Creighton v Seton Hall / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

On Wednesday evening Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner announced that he would be returning to Omaha for a fifth season. Kalkbrenner tested the draft waters this offseason but ultimately decided that another season at the college level was the better option. 

With Kalkbrenner’s return, Creighton looks to be one of the better defensive teams in college basketball. Over the past four seasons, the Bluejays haven’t given up more than 69.9 points per game to opponents. Ever since stepping foot on campus, Kalkbrenner has been one of the top defenders in the Big East. At 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner looms over the paint as a defender, daring any opponent to challenge him at the rim. 

As a freshman, he averaged 5.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. In his sophomore year, Kalkbrenner took his first major leap in production for the Bluejays as he more than doubled his averages from the prior season, ending his second year with 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks. This is when both Creighton and its fans knew that Kalkbrenner would be something special. After a slightly down junior season, he bounced back with an impressive senior season, averaging career-highs in both points and blocks. He averaged 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game. 

Kalkbrenner has been recognized as one of the top players in the Big East the past two seasons. He was selected as a first-team All-Big East player in 2022-23 and was a second-team selection this past season. But the accolades don’t stop there. In each of the past three seasons, Kalkbrenner has won the Big East Defensive Player of the Year.

Although Kalkbrenner is known for his stellar defense, he has proved to be a solid offensive threat for Creighton. This past season he made an impressive 64.6 percent from the floor and added a three-point shot to his game, hitting nearly 30 percent from behind the arc on 1.5 attempts per game. Kalkbrenner scored 20 or more points 11 times this past year, with a season-high of 29 points in an early season win over Loyola Chicago. 

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Creighton will again be a favorite to compete for a Big East title this upcoming season. Having a defensive player like Kalkbrenner back on the roster will only help the Bluejays. I expect big things for both Kalkbrenner and Creighton in his final season.